Ed Muransky Southwoods

Muransky Resigns as Chairman of YSU Foundation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ed Muransky has resigned as chairman of the Youngstown State University Foundation.

The move by Muransky, founder and chairman of Muransky Companies, comes after university trustees last week approved a contract for U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson to become the 10th YSU president. Johnson is to begin the new job in March.

It’s unclear whether Muransky resigned from just the chairmanship or from the foundation entirely.

A source close to Muransky said the businessman resigned from the organization.

Muransky could not be reached to comment.

Nader Atway, foundation vice chairman, said Muransky resigned from the chairmanship, citing personal reasons, but not the foundation. That was echoed by another member who declined to be identified.

Other foundation members deferred to Paul McFadden, president, for comment. McFadden declined, pointing to a statement released Tuesday by the foundation.

In its statement, the foundation, an independent development and advancement partner of YSU, said it would have preferred a more inclusive search that represented students, faculty and staff, alumni, supporters and the donor base.

“During the past few days many of these individuals have reached out to the YSU Foundation trustees to express their concerns and their reluctance to provide on-going support moving forward,” the foundation statement said.

In addition to his role at the foundation, Muransky and his wife, Chris, sponsor YSU’s Donald P. Pipino Performing Arts Series.

In 2013, the Muranskys donated $100,000 to the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communication to support the performing arts series in perpetuity. The college is now the Cliffe College of Creative Arts.

That funding may be in jeopardy.

The series was named for Chris Muransky’s father, Donald P. Pipino, who died in 2011. Pipino was a business owner, musician and patron of the arts who regularly attended YSU music and theatrical performances.

The series “features diverse international artists whose astounding performances inspire audience members of all ages,” the YSU website states.

The trustees’ decision to hire Johnson has been met with opposition from alumni, faculty, students and community members.

Bruce Zoldan, president and chief executive of Phantom Fireworks and a YSU donor, told The Business Journal on Tuesday that he’s not happy with the way trustees conducted the presidential search and that he’s considering asking that his family name not be attached to the new student center planned for campus.

He donated $5 million earlier this year to the campaign for the new center, which was to be named the Zoldan Family Center.

Zoldan said he doesn’t plan to ask for his donation to be returned, but he may ask that the money be used for student scholarships instead of the center bearing his family name. 

In 2020, the Zoldan family donated $1 million for scholarships and a mentorship program.

Now Zoldan said he isn’t sure if he’ll donate to YSU in the future.

Others are pulling their support too.

Jim Cossler, retired CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, posted on Facebook that he and his wife were going to leave the bulk of their estate to YSU. He wrote in the post that they instructed their trust attorney Tuesday to eliminate the university, adding, “There is a line in the sand you can’t cross with us. And his name is Bill Johnson.”

Dr. Thom Kunkel, a Girard podiatrist, on Wednesday emailed a copy of a letter he wrote to YSU trustees.

He called Johnson a divisive choice. He didn’t attend YSU, but his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law did.

The family has contributed to the YSU Foundation. “Youngstown State, in no small part, makes our community a great place to live and raise a family,” he wrote.

But Johnson as YSU president changes Kunkel’s and his family’s perception of that, he wrote in the letter. He lists Johnson’s support of former President Donald Trump, Johnson’s denial of 2020 election results and his views on climate change and the LBGTQ community.

While he’s neither an alumni nor a “mega donor,” Kunkel has started 10 college savings accounts for his grandchildren.

“Those funds will not go to a university where Bill Johnson is the president,” he wrote. “Is this petty politics? No, this is preserving a civil, dynamic, inclusive and science-based higher educational institution in our community. You can do better. We can do better.”

A group of five alumni, including YSU’s only Rhodes Scholar, has urged alumni and other supporters to notify the foundation that they will “withhold financial support until the [YSU Board of Trustees] removes Johnson or he resigns and a transparent, public search involving university stakeholders is conducted.”

It’s the same group that collected 2,300 signatures from people opposed to Johnson as YSU president.

In their email this week, they urge people to attend the Dec. 7 regular trustee meeting to continue to voice opposition.

Pictured at top: Ed Muransky, founder and chairman of Muransky Companies.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.